SAG-AFTRA Considers Allowing Stars of Indie Movies to Promote at Fall Film Festivals

By: Dan Cooper

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SAG-AFTRA Considers Allowing Stars of Indie Movies to Promote at Fall Film Festivals

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is currently considering whether stars from indie U.S. films can promote their work at the upcoming fall film festivals. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the Chief Negotiator and National Executive Director of SAG-AFTRA, revealed in an exclusive interview that the guild is looking into the issue and may offer an interim agreement for this purpose.

Crabtree-Ireland made these comments during the San Diego Comic-Con, where he discussed the potential for an interim agreement that would allow indie film talent to participate in film festivals without violating the guild’s strike rules. According to SAG-AFTRA’s strike rules, members are allowed to participate in film festivals that have no connection to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) companies. However, they are prohibited from promoting work done for a struck company at any film festival.

The guild has already cleared several star-studded indie movies and TV series to shoot during the actors’ strike, as these projects are produced by non-AMPTP companies. This has given hope to film festival organizers and personal publicists that exceptions will be made for indie movies premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Telluride, and the Venice Film Festival.

TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey expressed optimism that SAG-AFTRA will approve an interim agreement for completed indie films, allowing talent to attend the festival. Bailey emphasized that the decision ultimately lies with each SAG-AFTRA member, even if an interim agreement is in place. Discussions are ongoing between the festival organizers, filmmakers, directors, and actors to find a solution that satisfies all parties.

Crabtree-Ireland clarified that if an interim agreement is reached, the indie companies must agree to the terms of SAG-AFTRA’s last offer to the AMPTP, just like any other company currently operating under an interim agreement. This ensures that the companies are free from any AMPTP influence.

The upcoming TIFF is expected to include a significant number of U.S. indie and Hollywood films in its lineup. Some awards season contenders, such as A24’s ‘Problemista’ and Lionsgate’s ‘White Bird,’ have shifted their release dates to accommodate the ongoing strike and the availability of talent for promotion. MGM’s ‘Challengers,’ starring Zendaya, has also postponed its Venice Film Festival premiere to ensure the actress can promote the film.

Crabtree-Ireland also discussed the complexities of granting waivers to projects that resemble AMPTP productions, such as Apple TV+’s ‘Tehran.’ He highlighted the importance of protecting the rights and livelihoods of voiceover actors in the face of advancing AI technology.

In conclusion, SAG-AFTRA is actively considering the possibility of allowing stars from indie movies to promote their work at fall film festivals. While discussions are ongoing, there is hope that an interim agreement will be reached, allowing talent to attend and promote their films without violating the guild’s strike rules. The decision ultimately rests with each SAG-AFTRA member, and negotiations are underway to find a solution that satisfies all parties involved.

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